Generator Rental or Generator Purchase? Which Is Best for You?

Sometimes you just need a rental. Sometimes it makes more sense to buy. When you need to make that decision about a portable generator rental versus a purchase, there are a number of factors that figure into your calculations.

Let’s concentrate on the rental side of the equation here. If the ideas presented below align with your needs, then you’ll probably want to rent a generator. If not, then you most likely will consider purchasing one instead.

If you see an item in the table below that particularly interests you, click it to jump there. Otherwise, just keep on reading.

How Often Do You Plan to Use a Portable Generator?

Try to think ahead into the future. Can you come up with more than one time that you’d use a generator? Most likely you have at least one occasion in mind already or you wouldn’t be reading this. Is that occasion likely to recur, or is it a once in a lifetime deal?

Generac GP1800

Generac GP1800

Did you think of a few times when a portable generator would be useful? For example, do you go camping every year? More than once a year? Would you be willing to rent one every time you go on such an outing?

Do you want to have a portable generator as a backup source of power for your house? How often in the past have you lost power from the utility company due to a storm or an accident or some other reason? Do you even care how often it’s probably going to happen in the future? Would once be too often?

Which Portable Generators Are Available to Rent?

Before we tackle that question directly, we need to look at a couple of related items. If you are going to rent a generator, you’re obviously going to do so locally. It doesn’t make sense to pay to have it shipped to you any distance at all. You’d also have to pay to have it shipped back again.

Whether or not you are even able to rent one then depends on where you live. If you live close enough to a business that rents portable generators that it makes sense for you to consider the rental, then it also makes sense to continue looking at the remaining factors in said rental. If not, you can stop here and start think about buying one outright.

The availability of a specific generator then will depend on which ones the businesses in your locality have on hand at a given time. It will also obviously depend on which and how many businesses in your area rent portable generators.

Companies that do have generators for rent include United Rentals, Sunbelt Rentals, Home Depot, and Hertz Equipment Rental. If none of these national businesses have a store near you, there may still be a regional store you can check out. Failing that, you may have to purchase one instead.

Each of these rental outfits will have portable generators of different makes, models, and sizes. Trying to list exactly what is available here would be fruitless. You’ll have to check each of them out individually. You’ll probably be able to find a generator that suits your needs if one or more of these businesses is within reasonable driving distance.

How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Portable Generator?

The cost of renting a portable generator depends chiefly on two things. How long do you want to rent it for? And which model of generator (specifically what size) do you want to rent?

In general, as you would expect, the larger the generator, the more it will cost. Similarly, the longer you keep it, the more it will cost. Rates per hour or per day will go down the longer you keep it. You may find a place where you can rent for as little as 4 hours. Some renters will offer hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly rates. That said, if you’re renting for several weeks, it may make more sense to buy one and keep it.

In addition to the basic rental fee, you may encounter taxes, surcharges, delivery and pickup, and other fees.

You may have to put down a deposit, which most likely will be refunded upon return. You may also have to refuel the generator before you return it or face an additional charge.

Should I Rent or Buy a Portable Generator? [The Verdict]

So what have you decided – rent or buy? Look back at some of the questions posed above. Maybe you even want to physically write down the answers to them and create a pros and cons list. Do your answers lean more towards the pros for renting or the pros for buying?

If your answers are close to 50-50, you probably should rent at first because it sounds like you’re unsure. It would be better to rent a few times with a lower cash layout than to make a purchase that you regret later.

Renting can also give you some idea as to whether you like the features of the model you choose. Perhaps you’ll rent a different one next time. If you’re really thinking of buying one for the long haul, trying out several as rental models can help you decide which portable generator to get in the end.

You might even find a place from which you can rent to own, which would be a very good deal once you latch onto a model that you really like.

If you can take your time deciding on a model and determining whether to rent or buy, you should do so. A portable generator, while not necessarily a major purchase, is a significant one that you won’t want to make lightly.